For most LCS fans, Kim “Berserker” Min-cheol is a player that came out of nowhere, in the middle of a haze of uncertainty surrounding Cloud9’s roster going into the Spring Split. Considering C9 didn’t have most of their core roster for Lock-In, we didn’t get to see the new team members play until the start of Spring. Park “Summit” Woo-tae has done pretty well for himself, but he’s also a storied LCK player. Kim “Winsome” Dong-keon has also been solid, but neither of them have reached the heights Berserker has. Where did Berserker come from, and why is he so damn good?
Hitting rock bottom
Berserker came to NA immediately after T1 Challengers’ worst split ever. 5-13 is a scoreline not really fitting of LoL's most storied franchise, and which has gathered fame over the years for prescient scouting and uncanny ability to develop talent. What’s more, T1.C won the Spring Split finals with the same roster. They dropped three games that whole prior season.
Going from first place in the playoffs to 5-13 is a massive downturn, and likely one of the factors that contributed to the lack of hype around Berserker before he got the chance to show off on the LCS stage. That said, T1.C’s generally poor performance doesn’t mean Berserker played poorly. Quite the opposite, actually. Berserker’s been carrying this team since Spring.
At 17 minutes into game 3 of the Spring Finals, T1.C’s scoreboard looked like this. Every lane was losing, HLE Challengers had a gold advantage nearing 10K. Sure, T1C won the other two games of the set, but it truly looked like HLE.C were poised to make a comeback in this set.
Berserker then hard carried his team by diving the backline and turned his mid laner getting picked into winning a 4v5 teamfight. From there, T1.C brought back teamfight after teamfight and came back from a massive deficit.
It’s clear that Berserker has always had a propensity for putting games on his back and bringing home the win for his team. And when T1.C bombed in Summer, Berserker did everything he could to try and salvage the split.
Kalista was a flavor pick in the LCK Challengers League for a while, but she was also a pick that worked particularly well around T1.C’s weaknesses. Kim “Asper” Tae-gi is a very aggressive support, and Kalista allowed Berserker to create both teamfight opportunities and bring Asper to a position where he can peel. As Jeong “Meriu” Jo-bin is a carry mid laner with a champ pool mainly consisting of melee champions meant to 2v2, mid was the obvious lane to play around for jungler Lee “Mowgli” Jae-ha.
T1.C never put resources into letting Berserker be the carry, which is why it was difficult to be impressed by him. Even if he got an early gank, it was often done for the purpose of freeing Asper up to rotate rather than to put Berserker ahead. In other words, Berserker was set up to fail in Summer. However, due to some fantastic scouting from Cloud9, he has a new stage to show off his skills on. And Berserker already looks like one of the best ADCs in the LCS.
It’s fair to say Berserker had a meteoric LCS debut. He was put in a position to carry by Cloud9 in every way. Winsome played support Champs that were meant to keep the carry alive. Robert “Blaber” Huang and Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami played jungle/mid combos meant to skirmish early and win with superior 2v2. Summit can teamfight, but he also spent a lot of time sidelaning and creating map pressure. Berserker has been Cloud9’s win condition so far. And he plays that role well.
It’s easy to see that Berserker has the same strengths he had on T1 Challengers. He’s impossible to kill, extremely patient, and a fantastic teamfighter. His solid performance was in no small part due to being healed, shielded, and peeled for by the rest of C9, but it’s hard to deny just how mechanically strong Berserker is. Not to mention how effective he is in the early stages of the game.
This Varus game from his time on T1.C is a great example of how easily Berserker manages to outrotate the opponent. His laning is notable not because Berserker outfarms his opponent, but because he stays even on farm while maintaining much more teamfight presence than the opposing bot laner. Any team Berserker is on tends to have an easy time taking early Drakes and Rift Heralds. This combined with the rest of C9’s ability to synergize, skirmish, and teamfight makes them one of the scariest squads in the LCS.
It’s hard to know where Cloud 9 goes from here considering it’s so early in the Split, but Berserker’s ability to play what the meta dictates and what his team needs gives Cloud9 a lot of potential draft options. He can do more than be the carry for this team, and it’s likely we’ll see a different look from C9 once the Enchanter meta phases out. For now, though, Berserker has no issue putting C9 on his back and bringing them to the top of the LCS.
Carver is an esports journalist and analyst who specializes in Eastern League of Legends.